China's growing control of global minerals supply leaves the US in the dust

Asia's Tech News Daily

Climate Change, Made in China 2025 initiative, includes a goal, securing global supply lines, exited, has not yet officially recognised, cooperation with Beijing, acquired, acquired yet another, Joe Biden

If oil was the buzzword of geopolitics in the previous century, the key to global influence in an era of climate change will lie elsewhere: minerals that power green technology.

In the run-up to the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the International Energy Agency pointed out that demand will shift from coal and fossil fuels to minerals such as lithium, cobalt and copper in the coming decades, as countries transition to green energy.

Minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel are integral to the construction of batteries, while rare earth elements such as neodymium are crucial to wind turbines and electric vehicles. As electricity replaces fossil fuels, copper and aluminium will take centre stage as well.

As a result, if the world is to meet its goal of keeping the rise in global temperatures to “well below 2 degrees Celsius”, as pledged in the Paris Agreement, the International Energy Agency estimates that demand for these minerals will increase hugely: for lithium, by as much as 40 times, while the market for graphite, cobalt and nickel will shoot up by around 20-25 times.

China is already investing towards this paradigm shift, particularly in parts of the world where the US is now at a disadvantage. While former US president Donald Trump spent his term in office trying to revive the domestic coal industry, China was busy building ties with power brokers that controlled strategic mineral reserves around the world.

In 2015, Beijing rolled out the Made in China 2025 initiative, which includes a goal to dominate the global electric vehicle industry. Soon after, China began securing global supply lines for strategic minerals and cornered the mining industry across the resource-rich developing world.

Geopolitics has only served to help, especially in more dysfunctional, war-torn countries. Afghanistan, for instance, sits on a treasure trove of minerals worth US$1 trillion according to the US, including possibly one of the world’s largest lithium reserves. The Taliban are now in control of those reserves after the US and its allies exited ignominiously. China is already out there, exploring potential mines.

Early in November, representatives from five Chinese mining companies arrived in Afghanistan to conduct “on-site inspections of potential lithium projects”. At least 20 Chinese state-owned and private companies have also made similar inquiries, according to the Global Times.

China is now doing this largely unopposed by any competition. After the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul earlier this year, China was among the few countries to keep its embassy open in Afghanistan, even though Beijing has not yet officially recognised the Taliban regime. On their part, the Taliban has been eager to offer China whatever it can, realising that cooperation with Beijing is central to its quest for international recognition.

Climate Change, Made in China 2025 initiative, includes a goal, securing global supply lines, exited, has not yet officially recognised, cooperation with Beijing, acquired, acquired yet another, Joe Biden

A cargo plane sits on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport on October 31, during a ceremony to mark the resumption of the export of pine nuts to China. The Taliban government hopes to rely on Beijing’s investment and support to rebuild the war-ravaged country. Photo: Xinhua

Similarly, in Africa – home to some of the world’s biggest mineral reserves – China has inserted itself into diplomatic vacuums and quietly built ties with regimes that have been at loggerheads with the West for years.

Take the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example. A staggering 70 per cent of the world’s cobalt is mined in the country. As of last year, Chinese companies owned or financed 15 of the 19 cobalt mines there, according to a New York Times report.

Under the former Congolese president, Joseph Kabila, Beijing built a productive relationship which expanded that influence. Before he left office in 2019, Kabila’s tyrannical rule saw violent civil strife, disputed elections, and troubled relations with the West after he refused to step down following the expiry of his term in 2016.

In 2016, while Washington was distracted by political crisis, China Molybdenum acquired majority stakes in one of the country’s largest copper and cobalt mines, Tenke Fungurume, previously owned by the Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan. Four years later, the same Chinese firm acquired yet another, even more impressive, cobalt reserve from the same American firm.

Climate Change, Made in China 2025 initiative, includes a goal, securing global supply lines, exited, has not yet officially recognised, cooperation with Beijing, acquired, acquired yet another, Joe Biden

Excavators and drillers at work in an open pit at the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine in Congo in January 2013. Photo: Reuters

Such manoeuvres have now given China outsize influence in the refining and processing of the next generation of fuels. According to the International Energy Agency, China processes 50-70 per cent of the world’s lithium and cobalt, and as much as 90 per cent of its rare earth metals. China is also the largest processor of copper and nickel, with shares of 40 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

China’s influence isn’t simply restricted to war-torn, fragile states that are at odds with the West; it has made significant investments in countries that are allies of the West, too. Over half of the world’s lithium, for instance, is produced in Australia. But 58 per cent of it is processed by China, according to IEA data.

China’s clout in these markets will prove to be a significant bargaining chip in the years ahead, especially as the West looks to move towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Under Trump and current President Joe Biden, Washington has led global discourse on diversifying global supply chains to reduce dependence on China. But, as far as green energy minerals are concerned, existing mines are far more concentrated in a few countries than is the case for oil and gas reserves – leaving the world with little option but to depend on China for at least the medium term.

In its foreign policy speeches, the Biden administration has emphasised its desire to build America’s capabilities and compete with China. The market for future energy sources is one area where American diplomacy will have to work overtime.

Mohamed Zeeshan is a foreign affairs columnist and the author of Flying Blind: India’s Quest for Global leadership

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Maruti Suzuki share price falls after global brokerage retains 'sell', expects 25% downside

Maruti Suzuki India share price fell over 2 percent in the morning session on January 18 after CLSA retained sell call on the stock. The scrip was trading at Rs ... Read more »

Race to cut carbon emissions splits U.S. states on nuclear

The Associated PressChris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower, a company developing and building small nuclear reactors, poses for a photo in the company’s lobby, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in ... Read more »

Norway's Telenor to sell stake in Myanmar's Wave Money

The Associated PressFILE – In this Oct. 26, 2014, file photo, customers including Buddhist monk line up outside a showroom to buy SIM card at Telenor, Norwegian telecommunication company, in ... Read more »

Job instability, medical costs key concerns in COVID times: SBI Life study

(Image: ANI) Even as the third COVID-19 wave takes root in India, many are still reeling under the impact of the first two waves in 2020 and 2021, though there ... Read more »

Sudarshan Chemicals Q3 PAT seen up 6.5% YoY to Rs 36 cr: Sharekhan

Sudarshan Chemical Industries | Company reported profit at Rs 30.33 crore in Q2FY21 against Rs 46.2 crore, revenue rose to Rs 428.9 crore from Rs 424.85 crore YoY. (Image: Moneycontrol) ... Read more »

Banks urge Centre to extend emergency credit guarantee for small businesses till March next year

With rising commodity prices, FISME wants the abolition of import duties on steel, copper, aluminum and polymers. (Representational Image; Source: ShutterStock) The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has urged the government ... Read more »

NOCIL Q3 PAT seen up 17.6% YoY to Rs 26 cr: Sharekhan

Sharekhan has come out with its third quarter (October-December’ 21) earnings estimates for the Speciality Chemicals sector. The brokerage house expects NOCIL to report net profit at Rs 26 crore ... Read more »

COVID self-isolation rules, offshore wind farms and house prices

Listen to “Covid self-isolation rules, offshore wind farms and house prices”. Ian King explores the change to coronavirus self-isolation rules in England and the impact on businesses. He also speaks ... Read more »

Unit 2 of Belarusian NPP to be launched in February — Rosatom

Director General of Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation Alexey Likhachev said that right now, the colleagues are waiting for a permission to switch to minimum controlled reactor power Read more »

Indian rupee falls 18 paise to 74.43 against US dollar in early trade

Representative image The rupee declined by 18 paise to 74.43 against the US dollar in opening trade on Tuesday, as strong American currency and elevated crude oil prices weighed on ... Read more »

When should you approach a financial advisor?

Not everyone needs an investment advisor. But some people do. They may not realize it though. But a timely, unbiased and objective professional intervention can really make the difference between ... Read more »

Prestige Estates Projects hits 52-week high on record quarterly sales, collections

Shares of Prestige Estates Projects touched a 52-week high of Rs 553.40 rising eight percent intraday after the firm reported record quarterly sales for October-December. The group registered sales of Rs 4267.6 ... Read more »

Baht gains on quarantine-free travel hopes

Thailand's baht rose on Tuesday on hopes that the tourism-reliant country waives quarantine for vaccinated visitors again, while its emerging market peers gained on a US dollar unperturbed by a ... Read more »

Michelin-star chef's war on waste and sustainable eating push, and how he gets staff and Hong Kong diners to embrace change

“I was born in the 1960s but already in the early ’70s, global warming was on the agenda. I watched Jacques Cousteau films and in the ’70s, he was already ... Read more »

Budget 2022: Will capital gains tax be rationalized across asset classes?

If you buy a listed bond, then you pay long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax of 10 percent, if you hold it for more than 12 months. But if you sell ... Read more »

Assembly elections in 5 states: Political parties hit virtual campaign trail

Source: Reuters Snappy hashtags, peppy tunes and quick repartee, political parties have taken their campaign to the virtual world with great aplomb as five states go to elections next month ... Read more »

Coronavirus Update | India reports 2,38,018 new COVID-19 cases, 310 deaths

With 2,38,018 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,76,18,271, which includes 8,891 cases of the Omicron variant, according to the ... Read more »

Daily Voice | FM likely to focus on these 5 sectors in Budget 2022: Sahil Kapoor of DSP Investment

Sahil Kapoor is the Head Products and Market Strategist at DSP Investment Managers Sahil Kapoor, Head – Products and Market Strategist at DSP Investment Managers, says it will be important ... Read more »

Nibud: household purchasing power falls on average 40 euros per month

Dutch households are losing purchasing power sharply this year due to rising prices. On average, families lose about 40 euros per month. This is stated by the National Institute for ... Read more »

SPAC backed by Chinese brokerage CMB International becomes first to file for Hong Kong listing, under new regime for blank-cheque companies

A special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by the asset management arm of Chinese brokerage CMB International has applied to float its shares in Hong Kong, becoming the first to ... Read more »

Sebi tightens rules governing utilisation of IPO proceeds; tweaks OFS norms

Securities and Exchange Board of India (File image: Reuters) Tightening rules for initial public offering (IPO), Sebi has put a cap on the usage of the issue proceeds for unidentified ... Read more »

Budget session not likely to see crypto bill being presented

The much-awaited cryptocurrency bill, which had been scheduled for presentation during parliament’s winter session last year, is unlikely to see the light of the day during the budget session as well ... Read more »

Gold Prices Today: Yellow metal to feel pressure from higher US bond yield prices, support around Rs 47,650

Gold prices were flat on January 18 in the international markets as a weaker dollar partially offset pressure from elevated US Treasury yields, which dim the appeal of a non-yielding ... Read more »

MOEX index up 0.32% to 3,571.89 points at trade start

The price of WTI crude oil futures went up by 1.27% Read more »

What should investors do with UltraTech Cement post Q3 results; buy, sell or hold?

UltraTech Cement share price fell 2 percent amid profit booking in the early trade on January 18, a day after company reported its December quarter earnings. At 9:43 am, the ... Read more »

Will 100,000 new houses a year solve the housing crisis?

A great shortage of houses and sky-high prices for the houses that do exist. The housing market has been under great pressure for years. The new cabinet promises to solve ... Read more »

Energy crisis: Three options left to insulate households from '50% increase in bills'

The Treasury would need to approve each of the ideas still under consideration to help shield families from the worst of the looming hike in the price cap, Sky's Paul Kelso writes. Read more »

Dollar grows to 76.13 rubles on Moscow Exchange

The euro slides to 86.55 rubles Read more »

Tech Mahindra share price gains on acquisition announcement; brokerages maintain 'buy'

Tech Mahindra share price rose 1 percent in the early trade on January 18 a day after the company board approved acquisition of Com Tech Co IT. Tech Mahindra through its ... Read more »

Tatva Chinta Pharma falls over 9% at open on decline in margins

stocks_decline Shares of Tatva Chintan Pharma Chem Ltd on Tuesday declined over 9% in the opening after the firm reported a sequential fall in revenue and operating margins for the ... Read more »

How ESG standards and sustainability awareness can affect property values

How do we value our properties? Professional real estate valuers have traditionally been taught to rely on financial ratios such as profitability and capital budgeting to determine the value of ... Read more »

Asia shares mostly rise moderately after US national holiday

The Associated PressA woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Asian shares were ... Read more »

Construction of El Dabaa NPP in Egypt to begin in July - Rosatom

The El Dabaa nuclear power plant will be the first nuclear power plant in Egypt Read more »

Sell GBPINR ; target of : 101.40 : ICICI Direct

Representative image ICICI Direct’s currency report on GBPINR The pound depreciated by 0.18% yesterday mainly on the back of firm dollar and risk aversion in domestic market. Further, investors fear ... Read more »

Brent climbs above 7-year high on Mideast tensions, tight supply

Representative image Oil prices rose more than $1 on Tuesday to a more than seven-year high on worries about possible supply disruptions after Yemen’s Houthi group attacked the United Arab ... Read more »

DNL Standalone December 2021 Net Sales at Rs 231.25 crore, up 51.77% Y-o-Y

Reported Standalone quarterly numbers for DCM NOUVELLE LIMITED are: Net Sales at Rs 231.25 crore in December 2021 up 51.77% from Rs. 152.37 crore in December 2020. Quarterly Net Profit ... Read more »

Sacheta Metals Standalone December 2021 Net Sales at Rs 18.53 crore, down 22.76% Y-o-Y

Reported Standalone quarterly numbers for Sacheta Metals are: Net Sales at Rs 18.53 crore in December 2021 down 22.76% from Rs. 23.99 crore in December 2020. Quarterly Net Profit at ... Read more »

Urja Global Consolidated December 2021 Net Sales at Rs 24.95 crore, down 35.57% Y-o-Y

Reported Consolidated quarterly numbers for Urja Global are: Net Sales at Rs 24.95 crore in December 2021 down 35.57% from Rs. 38.73 crore in December 2020. Quarterly Net Profit at ... Read more »

Kerala Bank looking for new MD & CEO; invites applications

Kerala cooperative bank was formed after merging 13 district cooperative banks. (Representative image) Thiruvananthapuram-headquartered Kerala Bank, on January 18, invited applications for the post of Managing Director and Chief Executive ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency Prices Today: Bitcoin dips, Ethereum declines, Cardano surges

Bitcoin’s price is currently Rs 33 lakh and its dominance of the crypto market over the last 24 hours is 40.19 percent. The global cryptocurrency market capitalisation dipped by 2.26 percent ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic